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Essay on Punishment

Updated on September 7, 2011

Military Punishment

Punishments vary in so many ways. Every country, every boss, and every military, all have their own forms of punishment. Civilian or military, adult or child, and even rich or poor, all seem to make a difference as to how a person is punished for the things they do wrong. Fairness is determined by background and upbringing. What seems fair and common to someone in the Middle East may not seem fair or even ethical to an American. The numbers of ways to punish someone are as many and as different as the snowflakes that fall from the winter sky.

            When I was still serving in the Army I was sent to Kuwait to wait for the war to begin with Iraq. I often watched the soldiers in the Kuwait army. I was never impressed by them, nor did I find anything about their military all that fascinating. I watched them because the way they were punished seemed to be very harsh to an American. Not only did the punishments seem harsh, but often I could not figure out what they were being punished for. At certain times of the day they would stop whatever they were doing to pray. Vehicles would go in and out of the gates without being checked during this time, and that was acceptable. Though, I could see a soldier standing guard and looking professional and an officer would stop by and punish him.

            In the United States Army, punishments are usually dealt out using exercise techniques. For instance, if a soldier were to forget to solute an officer the officer would be inclined to have the soldier do pushups. Usually the punishment is not severe. The United States Military believes that the punishment only has to be something that allows the soldier to know that they did something wrong, and at the same time improve health and fitness. As a young soldier I was admittedly rebellious. I remember many occasions that I was required to do ten pushups here, or twenty pushups there.

            Other countries do not believe the same way however. In fact, many countries in the Middle East, and Asia, believe in corporal punishment. In other words, when a superior feels that one of his men needs to be punished they severely beat that man until they feel the soldier being punished has received what he deserves. In Kuwait for instance, the officers use a long cane that they beat the soldier with. As a form of respect, the soldier is taken into a private room. They do not try to make public examples, or try to embarrass the soldier while punishing them.

            I remember one day while I was guarding a gate. A Kuwait soldier was guarding a second entrance into the base just behind the entrance I was standing at. An officer for the Kuwait army tried to walk by me without showing his military identification. The officer raised his cane to hit me, but the other soldiers at the gate, and myself, detained the officer at gunpoint for threatening a United States Soldier.

            That was not the end of the incident however, despite how quickly it was handled. The Kuwait officer understood that he could not threaten a soldier of another army, but that did not stop him from taking out his anger. He immediately went to the Kuwait guard behind me and began beating him with a cane. Never getting an explanation, we assumed that the officer either was just taking his anger out on his man, or maybe the soldier was beaten for not doing anything when we detained his officer.

            No matter where you are from, or how punishments are dealt out, I’ve found that the only thing we all have in common is that we do not understand each other’s societies. One person can be beaten in private and think it’s unethical that another has to do pushups in public. Another can be yelled at in public and think that it is unethical to make someone pay a fine in private. There can simply be no real understanding for what we have never done or had happen to us.


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    • Traveler29 profile imageAUTHOR

      Joshua Hartzell 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      Well put Sally.

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 

      7 years ago

      Interesting. You are correct that we can't really understand another culture just by being a casual observer. Guess it goes along with walking a mile in another man's shoes. I often think that prejudices come from simply not understanding another way.

    • Traveler29 profile imageAUTHOR

      Joshua Hartzell 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      I'm glad you liked it. You sound like you know all to well maybe. You have a great day to.


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